Google claims court ruling would force it to ‘censor’ the internet

Deepak Gupta January 23, 2022
Updated 2022/01/23 at 8:40 PM

Google has asked Australia’s Supreme Court to overturn a 2020 ruling that it warns could have a “devastating” effect on the Internet at large. On a The search giant made on Friday, Google says it will be forced to “act as a censor” if the country’s highest court does not overturn a ruling that awarded a lawyer $40,000 in defamation damages for an article it claimed. company had linked through its search engine, reports .

In 2016, George Defteros, a Victoria state attorney whose list of past clients included individuals implicated in the Melbourne crime , contacted Google to request that the company remove a 2004 article from the . The play featured reports of murder charges brought against Defteros in connection with the death of three men. These charges were later dropped in 2005. The company refused to remove the article from its search results, as it considered the publication to be a reliable source.

The matter ended up going to court with Defteros successfully arguing the article and Google search results defamed him. The judge who oversaw the case decided the ages reports implied that Defteros was at ease with Melbourne’s criminal underworld. The Victoria Court of Appeals later rejected an offer by Google to overturn the decision.

From Google’s point of view, what is at issue here is one of the fundamental building blocks of the internet. “A hyperlink is not, in itself, the communication of what it is linked to”, states the company in its petition to the Superior Court. If the 2020 judgment is upheld, Google says it will make it “responsible as the editor of any published subject on the web to which your search results provide a hyperlink,” including news from reputable sources. In its defense, the company points to a of the Supreme Court of Canada which has maintained a hyperlink is by itself never a publication of defamatory material.

We’ve contacted Google for comment.

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